I was informed that a hermit colleague has been blessed with a spiritual gift, a spiritual phenomenon. I am rejoicing over this news! This particular hermit has in the past has seemed more leaning to the laws of minds; thus I have been praying for some time for the Holy Spirit to reach into the hermit's soul and inflame it with a touch of God's law of love, of the supernatural realities which soften us and remind us that the temporal is passing but the realm of the Spirit is eternal.
We can be reminded of St. Thomas Aquinas, a scholar of theology, an erudite writer of great intellect who spent the bulk of his priestly years in studious development and provision of theological thoughts and premises. His contribution is appreciated to this day in many ways; but toward the end of Aquinas' life, he experienced a profound mystical event, opening him to the law of God, the law of love.
Henceforth, Aquinas left off his studious and legal, theological laden writings. He is known to have exclaimed following the mystical experience: "All words as are straw" as he compared his voluminous writings to the touch of God's Spirit upon him in a very real yet mystical sense. Aquinas wrote no more. He turned to a life of prayer and love of God.
St. Bernard, on the other hand, discovered the power of God's love over studious interpretations of canon laws and aspects of theology. He seemed to grasp the spiritual hindrance of too much thinking with the "head" rather than the spiritual progression of thinking with the "heart." Bernard of Clairvaux had union in God's love earlier on in his life and wrote of the desire of God to have union with us in His love. He expounded beautifully of the four degrees of love and especially the pinnacle of such love being loving God in Himself.
When I was informed of my fellow hermit's spiritual experience, I smiled inwardly and have been rejoicing outwardly in my hermitage, while I work and pray. I smiled for two reasons. One is that I am overjoyed with this development in the spiritual life of my comrade in the eremitic vocation, as a fellow Catholic, fellow consecrated hermit even if our professions differ, our vows and rules of life differ in what amounts to minor details in the full spectrum of life.
I am praising the Lord for the softening and awe of love that occurs when one--and this applies to any one of us--receives a spiritual gift from God.
The other inner smiling comes from the effect that when I had written about a spiritual gift the Lord gave me, that of mystical ecstasy during Mass, my description was rather met otherwise--with suggestion by my colleague that I was mentally unstable, emotional, hysterical, a fraud, etc.
So it is that the Lord in his loving kindness alters our ways of being by giving us a gift in which we then can realize what such gifts are like, and He bestows in us a means of knowing deep within that the gift is genuine or not--regardless of what others may surmise. The Lord has His way of then showing us that we are not the judge, but he Is. I've been shown this, myself, in the past and am grateful to be reminded of the lesson to be learned over and over.
So it is that we can know our gifts are genuine; the Lord lets us know in various means and ways hard to describe. I trust that we have excellent spiritual directors as well as have enough common sense to recognize the techniques of deception plied upon us by the devil. And we do well to be far more scrutinizing of ourselves than what others might be. In fact, it is better to scrutinize ourselves sufficiently than for others to judge from afar.
The fruit of spiritual experiences can vary in the externals, but to the soul itself they bring a closer abiding in God, a greater sense and delight in His love of us, and create a deeper desire in us to love God in Himself above all things. From this love of God in Himself, God's love flows through us so that we, in turn, love one another as He loves us.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Now when I see the prayer tree I planted as a reminder to pray and praise God for my fellow hermit colleague (as well as for all hermits, but this colleague in particular) I will rejoice for the spiritual gift that my fellow hermit has received! It is a time for rejoicing!
God bless His Real Presence in us! Little children, let us love one another and let us love God in Himself.
(And it is also a time for me to rise after extended, bodily rest and to continue installing ceiling boards. Finish up the nailing of boards! I have an aunt to pray for in a major way; I've not been praying nearly enough for this soul who is advanced in years and currently obsessing over the writing of her own obituary, desiring that others appreciate her. I heard my late dad's voice last night remind me, regarding such aspects: "Don't toot your own horn." He always had a way of hitting the nail on the head with such aphorisms, wise advice.)